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Man initially guilty in guard's death acquitted in retrial

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

A Wayne County jury has acquitted one of the men previously convicted in the murder of a security guard outside a Detroit nightclub nearly eight years ago.

Carl Rene Bruner II was found not guilty Friday following his second trial in connection with the shooting of Marcel Jackson, 39, on June 20, 2012.

Jackson, the owner of a Southfield-based security company, was working as a security guard at the Pandemonium nightclub on Congress when Bruner was ejected by security guards after following an altercation.

Carl Bruner, in court with his attorney James Schlaff during his sentencing in 2015, was acquitted of murder in a retrial.

A married father of six, Jackson was a member of the Detroit 300 crime-fighting group.

Bruner was convicted in 2012 of first-degree premeditated murder, assault with intent to commit murder, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Bruner was sentenced as a fourth-offense habitual offender to life in prison for the murder count and to lesser terms for the other counts.

Last June, the Michigan Supreme Court vacated Bruner's life sentence and granted him a new trial.

At issue in the court's ruling was a witness who testified during the preliminary examination for Bruner's co-defendant, Michael Lawson, but was not available during Bruner's trial. Instead, that witness' statements were read into the court record.

Bruner's appellate attorney David Moffitt says the defense was not given the chance to cross-examine the witness which, the court ruled, violated Bruner's Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser in court.

During Lawson's preliminary examination, the witness referred to Bruner as "Blank"  and testified that Bruner had a gun and planned to come back to shoot Jackson and another security guard.

Authorities alleged Bruner was the trigger man and Lawson drove the car Bruner rode in. Bruner maintained at trial that he was not at the shooting and was misidentified. 

While Jackson died from his wounds, the other security guard, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, was not injured. 

Jackson's widow, Hollie Jackson, said Monday she was upset by the verdict in Bruner's retrial.

"Justice was not served," she said. "It feels like it did during that day back in June 2012 when we found out that Marcel died. My children are devastated. This has set us back emotionally and mentally; there is no closure for us."